Microsoft (MSFT) has partnered with Dell to package a cloud-in-a-box offering for the data centers of its enterprise and service provider customers.

Dubbed Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS), the solution — first introduced yesterday by Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group, during a Microsoft webcast — combines pre-integrated hardware from Dell and software from Microsoft for Azure customers.

CPS, available for purchase on November 3, is built on Dell hardware, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack. It was designed to scale from a single rack to up to four racks and optimized for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) deployments.

Over the course of 18 months, Microsoft's product group gathered feedback on the challenges of delivering cloud services from its enterprise and service provider customers. It concluded that many of its customers were "failing to realize the benefits of the cloud."

Microsoft's product group recognized that customers were facing many challenges when building cloud services: complex system definition, hardware integration, and software deployment and configuration. And that's when Microsoft began developing CPS.

"Running one of the largest public clouds, Microsoft Azure, we know what it takes to build and run a cloud, and we wanted to see how to take these learnings, be it architectural, design, operations, or technology and help you benefit from it," said the CPS Engineering team yesterday in a company blog post. "We have learned a lot along the way, and want to pass on all the knowledge we have gathered onto you."

Customers encountering issues in a CPS environment can contact Microsoft directly. If there are any problems arising from Dell's hardware, Microsoft will work with Dell to resolve them.

The Redmond, Washington software giant used yesterday's webcast to announce a few new initiatives including the company's G-series family of virtual machines optimized for data workloads, a new Azure Premium Storage offering, and the launch of an Azure Store.

"Simply put, we want to empower every individual and every organization to be able to thrive in this mobile-first, cloud-first world," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

Could this be a growing MSP's quick entry into hosting services for customers? While it may be an entry-level converged infrastructure system, it comes with anything but entry level capex pricing . ZDNet is reporting a typical configuration comes in at about $2.6 million. Does this appeal to you? Are there other "entry level" data center systems your company is considering?

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